Marie Stopes TV advert attracted second highest number of complaints in 2010

There were 1,088 complaints about the charity's advert on sexual health and abortion, according to the Advertising Standards Authority

Marie Stopes TV advert
Marie Stopes TV advert

A television advertisement by the charity Marie Stopes International about abortion was the second most complained-about advert of 2010, according to the Advertising Standards Authority's Annual Report 2010, published today.

The ASA received 1,088 complaints about the advert, which offered consumers information on sexual and reproductive health, including information about abortion. Some complaints said it promoted abortion.

The ASA also received 3,600 advance objections, some in petitions, from people trying to stop the advert being broadcast. Pre-broadcast objections are not counted as complaints.

The ASA decided not to uphold the complaints last year.

An advert from the betting company Paddy Power, which involved a partially sighted footballer kicking a cat into a tree, was the most complained about, with 1,313 objections. The complaints were not upheld.

On Marie Stopes, the report says: "We felt it was clear that the advertisers were promoting their post-conception advice service and were neither advocating one course of action over another, nor trivialising the dilemma of an unplanned pregnancy."

Tracey McNeill, the charity's vice-president for UK and international, said: "We remain confident that our decision to advertise this service was justified and in the interest of women everywhere.

"Having broken new ground with our Are You Late? campaign, we hope that other responsible agencies will follow suit and that advertisements like this will become a common part of television programming in the future."

The ASA's annual report also shows that the non-commercial sector, which includes charities, pressure groups and the government, was the second most complained-about sector in 2010.

It received 4,124 complaints about 840 adverts in the sector. The number of complaints fell by 25 per cent from 2009 – a year in which the non-commercial sector was the most complained-about.

In 2010, the ASA received 25,214 complaints overall about 13,074 adverts, with leisure being the most complained-about sector.

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